Shooting for stars
Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels. - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Almost 50 years ago, driven out of the sleeping quarters by nausea producing diesel fumes, I took my borrowed down sleeping bag to the deck of the sailing schooner The Adventuress as she journeyed on the waters of Puget Sound to Victoria, B.C. from Shilshole Bay.
A river loving creature, I was not prepared for the enormity of living on the sea as I lay on cold, hard, weathered boards soaked in sailing history. Often jostled awake in the drift of night, I would stare at the clear night sky, a gift itself that summer in the rain soaked Northwest.
The stars. Oh, the stars.
They invaded the moonless night, punctuating the dark sky above me with infinite pieces of light. A hint of a glimpse of the Milky Way sent my heart pumping and filled my soul with restlessness. A week on that sea, sailing under those stars, and I was helpless to escape.
I went home, quit my job, and two weeks later was in Seattle, beginning a post college life, singing at the Pike Place Market and helping crew a 32’ T-bird in sailing races on Saturday mornings while hunting for “real” jobs.
Having now moved to the desert all these years later, I have been wondering what happened to the person who loved those seas and those stars? What happened to the person who was inexorably drawn to the meeting of wave and shore? What happened to the person who completely uprooted a life in Colorado just to know these stars on the sea were close?
This puzzle invaded my thoughts as I stepped out the door into the dark this morning before the dawn. Covering up my walking light to dim its effect, I stared, as I always do, at the night sky. No street lights are allowed in this designated Dark Sky area, and that allows for a nearly virgin night sky to fill the void.
No matter how many times I exit my home and gaze at the stars, the effect on my soul never varies. It takes my breath away. It fill me with wonder and majesty and makes me feel small and insignificant in the best way possible. It helps me remember how human I am, and that something/someone much bigger than I am sets the planets in motion and wakes the stars.
In these moments, I have come to experience a new emotion not common to my inner landscape. I am happy. Not clap my hands happy, but happiness rooted in a deep contentment in my soul.
Because I am most at home amidst the stars.
All these years, especially towards the end of my Northwest stay, I thought I was sun starved. But this morning I realized that it was not the rain or the cold nor the cloud filled skies, but the absence of stars that had filled me with longing.
Now the stars walk with me before their brilliance begins to fade in the dawning day. An owl hoots from the top of a telephone pole and then shows a flash of white underbelly as it floats off. Wings flutter out of bushes and desert birds begin their wake up calls. Coyotes tune their voices, and a symphony begins as Light is born again on the horizon.
Today, the stars will disappear in the glare of sunlit skies as I scurry from one task to another. And then, like old friends, rested and ready to shine, they will wait outside my door in the pause between dark and day, these “forget-me-nots of the angels,” revealing their blossoms once again before folding into an awakening sky. Until tomorrow becomes today once more, and they claim their place in these “meadows of heaven.”
and I claim mine.